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Here's what happened when David Cameron and Ed Miliband went head-to-head with Jeremy Paxman*

*Well, sort of.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER David Cameron and his main rival Ed Miliband faced a prime time television grilling last night, as May’s election draws ever closer.

It wasn’t a head-to-head debate with Jeremy Paxman questioning both leaders individually, while Kay Burley moderated audience Q&A.

A snap Guardian/ICM poll of viewers showed 54% believed Conservative party leader Cameron put in the strongest performance, compared to the 46% who thought Labour leader Miliband came out on top.

Some commentators have suggested Cameron didn’t want a head-to-head debate in the belief that a lacklustre performance in TV debates during the 2010 election campaign contributed to the Tories failing to win outright.

Asked about claims from critics that he is a “north London geek” who wouldn’t be able to stand up to world leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Miliband hit back: “Am I tough enough? Hell yes, I’m tough enough.”

Source: Sky News/YouTube

Miliband was also questioned on immigration limits and budget cuts:

Source: Sky News/YouTube

Meanwhile, Cameron was asked about cutbacks, his plans to hold a referendum on Britain leaving the European Union and his disclosure this week that he would not stand for a third term if re-elected.

Speaking on his time in office he said: ”What I have learnt in the last five years is that nothing you want to do will work without a strong and growing economy.”

Source: Sky News/YouTube

The prime minister was also asked if he has a “credibility problem”:

Source: Sky News/YouTube

Twitter had a slight meltdown when users misheard one audience member’s name as Zayn Malik (he of leaving One Direction fame).

The police officer was actually called Zaid Malik.

The 95-minute programme came hours after the British parliament held its last day of business before shutting down ahead of the polls on 7 May, signalling the real start of an election campaign that has been simmering for weeks.

Here’s what some people made of the programme:

You can watch the full Sky News/Channel 4 show here:

Source: Sky News/YouTube

Additional reporting: AFP

Read: ‘Zayn Malik’ asked a question during Sky News’ live election debate and Twitter lost it

Read: 5 things to expect when George Osborne announces today’s Budget in the UK

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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